Skid Row Interview

Skid Row

Michelle LaRose talks to Rachel Bolan for Caustic Truths! Magazine
Photographs by Jason Shattles

Skid Row emerged on the rock scene in 1986. Hits such as Youth Gone Wild, I Remember You and 18 And Life drove the band to multi-platinum status.

Irreconcilable differences within the band led to their demise a decade later. Regrouping in 1996 minus Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso, the band released their first album, Thickskin with Johnny Solinger taking over the lead vocalist position.

Poised to release their second album, Revolutions Per Minute, under the re-grouping, Skid Row has set off on a fall tour. We were able to chat with original member and bassist Rachel Bolan about the new album and his passion for racing.

Skid RowCT: Your new album Revolutions Per Minute is due to be released at the end of October. Can you tell us about it?

Rachel: The way we’ve been describing is, “It’s not your Momma’s Skid Row record!”

[Both laughing]

Rachel: It’s very eclectic, not to use a weird term like that… but we go into different directions. We tend to re-invent ourselves with every new record we put out. We wrote from a whole different viewpoint on a lot of these songs. There’s one song called You Lied that starts out full out “country” and ends up full out “hard core punk.”  The whole album isn’t like that but there’s stuff for fans that expect the signature Skid Row sound. Then there are a lot of left turns on it that we really dug doing. We had a lot of fun with it.

CT: Who wrote the songs?

Rachel: Snake and I wrote songs. Scotti and I wrote songs. I do the bulk of the writing as I always did but it’s not a Skid Row song until we all get in the room and play it.

CT: This was recorded in Nashville, why Nashville?

Rachel: That’s where Michael Wagner lives. He produced our first two records. He has a studio in Mount Juliet, right outside of Nashville. He lives in Nashville so we just rented a few apartments and went out there in the country and recorded a record. It was really cool, you’d be cutting a track and all of a sudden a horse would walk by the window!

[Both laughing]

Rachel: It was on a farm and we were just staring at a horse’s ass!

[Both laughing]

CT: You wrote the music for High Banked Heroes–Two Wheeled Warriors for the Speed Channel. How did that come to be?

Rachel: Ralph Sheheen is a good friend of mine, who hosted it. He had called me and said, “Hey, do you want to write a theme for me?” I said, “Yeah! Sure!” Actually that theme turned into a song on the new Skid Row record.

CT: Nice! On Revolutions Per Minute?

Rachel: Yeah. The song called Shut Up Baby I Love You; it came out of that riff. I was like, “You know what? I need to put some more music to this” so I did and now we have a song.

CT: Was writing for the show different than writing for the band?

Rachel: Well yeah because I didn’t have to write lyrics. I had to think in really short blasts. I had to keep pictures of motorcycles in my head flying down the road while I was writing the music. I sent it to him. He loved it and the producers loved it and it got on the show.

CT: You were on two of Ace Frehley’s albums. We know you’re a big Kiss fan. What was it like to work with one of your idols?

Rachel: It was pretty cool! I guess that was the first time that we had met Ace. We were in Connecticut or New Hampshire or something. We were cutting a record and it was kind of like a triple blend. Richie Scarlet who played in Ace’s band at the time was an old friend of mine. Ace had wanted us to come up and sing and when we got there, Eddie Kramer was producing who I had never met who did all the early Kiss and I think he did some Zeppelin and Hendrix, so that was cool and then Peter Criss comes walking in to sing backup vocals and it was like, “This is really cool!” It was a lot of fun! With him being there and being there with my old friend Richie made it even cooler.

Skid RowCT: What did you learn from working with Ace?

Rachel: Ya’ know… It was just kind of in and out. I learned how funny he is!

[Both laughing]

Rachel: But when he’s running things himself, he’s pretty serious about it.

CT: You are also a race car driver. What kind of cars do you race?

Rachel: I race Legends Cars and Thunder Roadsters and the occasional methanol burning Go-Cart.

CT: How often do you get to race?

Rachel: Lately, we’ve been so busy this year and last year that I haven’t got to race in a while. Every now and then on the road, if there’s a race, I’ll try to jump in and see if someone will lend me a car. I’ll try to jump in it and everyone likes that idea!

CT: Have you won any races?

Rachel: I won a heat race. I won a Go-Cart league that I was in.  Yeah, I haven’t won any of the big races yet but I haven’t done it as much as I’d like to either.

CT: What are your racing goals?

Rachel: Right now it’s just a hobby. That’s what it’s going to end up being because music is my life. That comes first.

CT: is “Coming Soon.” What is Rachel Bolan Motor Sports?

Rachel: It is a way for all the fans to keep in touch. We are just rebuilding the site. It’s just a way for fans to keep up with what we do in racing and some merch if they want. Being that I haven’t been racing all that much, there’s not too much to talk about but we’ll have it up and running. I’m building a Go-Cart, so I’ll probably have that process in photos or videos up on there. Just so people can see the other stuff that I do.

CT: What’s Skid Row up to after the tour is over?

Rachel: Well, the album comes out October 24th.  We’re taking out King’s X and Nashville Pussy; the first leg is going to be about six weeks. That should end up right around the middle of December and we’ll take Christmas break and January off and start up again in February. We’ll tour the states again then we’ll probably head over to Japan and Australia and then to Europe. We’re going to be out for a while.

CT: Rachel, I’d like to thank you so much for talking to Caustic Truths! today.

Rachel: No problem. Thank you!

Skid Row